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Properly labelling scales


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Let's suppose I have an Em9#13 chord. As far as I know you can solo over that with a Bm scale, a Dmaj scale, or an E Dorain scale, and it would all sound the same. But how do you know which scale to call it? I think it depends on the starting note, but I'm not sure.

For Ex: If I solo starting on an E, then its an E Dorian scale, but if I started on a B, then it be a Bm scale.


Shut up and play.
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Sometimes it helps to think of them as directly as possible related to the chord you're playing over rather than some sort of relationship. It helps you see where the root, third, and seventh are and to ne it's easier than thinking of some substitution.


For example, if I'm playing over a G7 vamp I would call one of my scale choices G mixolydian. I would not call it C major even though the set of pitches is identical. In this case especially, thinking C major makes it really easy to lay into the note C, which is probably the note that works least well in the framework of a dominant sound, as far as a landing point for a phrase...


But in the end, it doesn't really matter what you call it, as long as you know when to use the notes.

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You could also use a Symmetrical Octatonic scale.


The scale tones are:


I, bII, bIII, III, #IV, V, VI, bVII, I


There is an extra note in this scale over the "standard" scale. You'll notice that the scale steps go up by tone, semi-tone, tone, semi-tone, etc. This scale contains all the chord tones in your m7#13 chord. The sharp thirteen is represented by the bVII. Watch out that you don't use notes that set up tri- tones and make the chord sound dominant.


The other problem with symmetrical scales is that they don't resolve themselves, so it's easy to lose track of what key you are actually in at the moment.






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